Home What’s in a name – RSS or Feeds?

What’s in a name – RSS or Feeds?

Google News now has RSS feeds (finally!). It’s great that all the big Internet companies now offer RSS feeds, but Google’s move unfortunately signals a split in RSS branding amongst the big media and technology companies. Like Microsoft, Google isn’t embracing the term ‘RSS’. Microsoft wants to call RSS “web feeds”, while Google is simply calling them “feeds”. And there’s no sign of any orange buttons on the Google News Feeds page.

The NY Times, BBC, MyYahoo and lots of other media sites already use the pervasive orange buttons and the term ‘RSS’ – so there’s now a definite split (dare I say, fork) in how RSS/feeds are being marketed to the public.

As I mentioned a week ago, personally I think the term ‘RSS’ and its orange branding has gotten too much traction on the Web already and it’s too late to change it now.

In that respect Microsoft and Google shouldn’t mess with the brand – it’s bigger than both of them. But that doesn’t mean they won’t succeed in turning the brand into ‘Feeds’, because as the two biggest Internet companies around – obviously they hold a lot of sway. Dave Winer suggested that Microsoft and Google’s name changes “will get routed around”, but I wonder whether that’s more hope than logic.

I’m conflicted on this. I’d like ‘RSS’ to continue as the brand name for syndication and feeds. But I also want mainstream adoption – and if Microsoft and Google achieve that by promoting ‘feeds’, well I guess NY Times, BBC and the others will follow suit in due course and it’ll be happily ever after for syndication.

Like it or not, the big companies will drive mainstream adoption. Two of them obviously are reluctant to stick with the status quo and call it RSS. So which way will it go – RSS or Feeds?

UPDATE: This post has attracted some excellent comments. Most people seem to prefer “feeds” as the brand of RSS (and yes I’m using the word ‘brand’ far too often these days!). MSN’s Mike Torres pointed out that HTML pages are known as “web pages”, so it’s appropriate that RSS feeds be called “web feeds”. Peter Cooper said that his own Feed Digest, and Feedburner too, have already gone down this road and refer to them as “feeds”. IBM’s David Berger commented that “it’s an overstatement that RSS and the orange box have “established” themselves as an Internet brand”. These and all the other great comments, which mostly support “feeds” over “RSS” as the brand, are compelling arguments.

Hmmm, so “feeds” has the momentum – in this thread at least. I’d still like to hear some more views on this…

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